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To lift the voices of California’s San Joaquin Valley rural communities by connecting available resources and bringing policy changes needed to improve health.
Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences.
The Rural HEAL Collaborative is passionate about improving health, education and economic outcomes in rural communities throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Our methodology for engagement takes the shape of effective partnerships, which are essential for community-based solutions for advancing health equity. By facilitating a shared vision and values, we work to increase communities' capacities to shape outcomes, and foster multi-sector collaboration for the benefit of all.
The HEAL Collaborative is located in an ethnically and economically diverse geographic region, offering the relevant research capacity and ability to link to rural areas together. Within our region, we understand how the lack of access to education, food, and economic opportunities leads to medical deserts and chronic disease epidemics. As a result of our education, health, NGO, industry and political partnerships, we see how collaboration breeds innovation to tackle the challenges of building and sustaining healthy, rural communities.
The 26,000-square miles of the San Joaquin Valley, from Merced to Kern County, constitutes a significant population of low-income rural residents with the nation's lowest educational attainment. The lack of education translates to reduced employment opportunities, increased poverty, and limited access to healthcare. In California's Central Valley, like rural communities across America, residents encounter meager resources to improve workforce and economic development. Likewise, rural communities experience few opportunities to carry out research and evaluate failing systems or leverage social and political power to eliminate health inequities. Ensuring that rural San Joaquin Valley communities meet workforce demands and attain economic stability is integral to the success of our nation. In rural regions, where populations are more dispersed and farther from major job centers, labor markets face different challenges than those in metro areas, where people are closer to education, training, and employment options.
As we continue to build the HEAL Collaborative, ongoing dialogue and strategic convenings among partners and interested others are critical to creating systemic change that improves the health and socioeconomic stability of rural communities across the nation.
The HEAL Advisory Committee consists of regional partners representing four academic hubs located in the San Joaquin Valley: UC Merced, UC San Francisco at Fresno, CSU Fresno Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI), and Bakersfield College (BC).
The HEAL Collaborative engages in various pilot projects and initiatives that catalyze efforts to address rural health inequities, educational attainment, workforce demands, and improve wellness, using this three-pronged approach:
HEAL's short- and long-term strategic priorities encompass an overarching commitment to serve as a catalyst for local, state and national collaboration and as a progressive, creative force on behalf of all rural health constituencies/communities.
To fulfill our mission and implement vision, HEAL will:
Director, Business Development and Community Relations
Delano Regional Medical Center
In November 2018, Bakersfield College (BC) created a healthcare initiative for local community healthcare professionals and partners to collaborate, discuss, and strategize the future of healthcare within our community. Bruce Peters, President & CEO of Mercy Hospitals, Sharlet Briggs, President & CEO of Adventist Health, and Bakersfield cardiology specialist, Dr. Jeet Singh, were just a few of the power houses in attendance. Attendees discussed how our region can provide educational and workforce development programs that the healthcare industry needs. Attendees also discussed how to help prevent shortfalls in the Kern County healthcare workforce.